NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope has captured a new image of Pandora's Cluster, or Abell 2744, which will allow astronomers to study the distant universe. The Pandora’s Cluster is a giant galaxy cluster resulting from the simultaneous pile-up of at least four separate, smaller galaxy clusters that took place over a span of 350 million years.
According to NASA, the gravity of this galaxy cluster is strong enough that it acts as a lens to magnify images of more distant background galaxies and this technique is known as gravitational lensing.
The fuzzy blobs in this Spitzer image are the massive galaxies at the core of this cluster, but astronomers will be poring over the images in search of the faint streaks of light created where the cluster magnifies a distant background galaxy, NASA said.
In a collaboration called the Frontier Fields project, the Pandora's Cluster is also being studied by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope and Chandra X-Ray Observatory.
In this image, light from Spitzer's infrared channels is colored blue at 3.6 microns and green at 4.5 microns.
The Spitzer Space Telescope is an infrared space observatory, launched on August 25, 2003, from Florida. It was developed to detect infrared radiation, which is primarily heat radiation.
The cluster is the first of six targets of the three-year programme, which intends to "yield our deepest views of the Universe to date, using the power of Hubble to explore more distant regions of space than could otherwise be seen, by observing gravitational lensing effects around six different galaxy clusters", a NASA report said.
A team of astronomers used Pandora's Cluster’s gravitational lensing to find out a large number of distant, gravitationally lensed galaxy candidates.